Ambitious garage bands are hereby advised to stop practicing, and all up-and-coming songwriters might as well enroll at DeVry right now. Conversely, those musicians still lucky enough to be getting royalties from decades-old releases might want to seriously consider remodeling their kitchens: As reported by Adam Pugsley in Chart Attack, so-called “catalog albums,” or albums older than 18 months, are now outselling new releases for the first time in the history of the recording industry— in terms of physical sales, at least. In digital sales of whole albums, new releases are still (barely) ahead. But in terms of digital sales of individual tracks, the nostalgic stuff leads the way, a trend that not even the massive success of Adele can reverse. Chart Attack even has some snazzy charts documenting this paradigm shift:
Just a decade ago, new releases were outselling old ones by 150 million albums a year. So what happened? Who or what is to blame for new music becoming an undesirable commodity? One culprit could be the so-called vinyl revival, which has heavily favored catalog titles like Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, a 43-year-old album that nevertheless sold 50,000 copies in 2015. According to the article, younger music listeners who get into collecting vinyl are opting for older albums. And then there’s the possibility that people are more likely to stream new albums than purchase them. Regardless of the cause, it looks like nostalgia has a stranglehold on the music industry.